As Eric Holder wrings his hands in remorse over his feverish pursuit of Fox News reporter James Rosen’s phone records, it’s worth noting that, when it comes to national security leaks, some things are secret—and should be kept that way—for a reason.
In Rosen’s case, the alarm bells went off not because he reported that North Korea was about to conduct a nuclear-weapons test but because he reported that the CIA learned of this fact from a source inside North Korea. In other words, Rosen revealed that the CIA had a source inside North Korea. It’s unclear whether the source was a human spy or a communications intercept; it’s also irrelevant because, thanks to this story, the source is probably no longer alive or active.
I’m not saying that Rosen should have been treated like a criminal; even Holder is backpedaling from that claim now. But he could have written his story without revealing that nugget about the inside source. The story might have been a little less compelling; his audience might have wondered how he or his official contacts knew that a test was coming. But the U.S. government might also still have a decent intelligence source inside North Korea.